An A1c (HbA1c) test is a blood test. The test measures your average blood sugar level over the past three months. It is used to screen people for prediabetes and diabetes. Your doctor may also do an A1c test to make decisions about treatment.
Here are some common questions about A1c, and some helpful answers:
How often should I have an A1c test?
Most doctors will want you to have an A1c test every three to six months. Your doctor may ask you to get the test every three months if:
• Your blood sugar levels are not at your goal
• You’re newly diagnosed with diabetes
• Your doctor changes your meds or dose
What is the recommended target for an A1c?
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends a target A1c value of 7% or lower. It’s important to keep your A1c as close to the target as possible. This can decrease your chances of developing diabetes-related complications.
Your doctor may recommend a different target depending on your age and the type of meds you’re taking. Be sure to speak with your doctor about your specific goals.
Do I need to monitor my blood sugar and get A1c tests?
Yes! The A1c test does not replace daily checking.
• Checking your blood sugar each day gives you valuable information. It tells you in real time how things like nutrition and activity are affecting your blood sugar. Regular blood sugar checks make it easier to make changes to your diabetes plan, exactly when needed.
• An A1c test provides you with a picture of how those changes are working for you over a period of a few months.
Factors that may affect A1c
Several factors can falsely increase or decrease your A1c result. These include:
• Kidney failure
• Sickle cell anemia or thalassemia
• Certain meds, including opioids and some HIV treatments
• Blood loss or blood transfusions
• Untreated anemia due to iron or B12 deficiency
• Cirrhosis of the liver
• Early or late pregnancy
Talk to your doctor about how these factors may affect your lab results.
Here are some things you can do to lower your A1c or keep it in the target range:
• Eat a healthy diet. Enjoy plenty of vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats.
• Stay active. Make exercise part of your daily routine.
• Reduce stress. Find effective ways to manage stress.
• Get your z’s. Try to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night.
If you have questions about lowering your A1c, schedule a session with your Livongo expert coach or doctor.